The river Loire, the longest river in France, meanders through the beautiful Loire Valley, which is often referred to as the ‘Garden of France’ with its abundance of vineyards and fruit orchards along its banks. It was also known as the ‘playground of the Kings’ due to its profusion of wildlife and easy access from Paris. The Loire Valley boasts a temperate climate which is ideal for the production of wine, making the area the third largest wine region in France. Historic towns, medieval fortresses, magnificent chateaux, royal gardens and perfectly appointed parks adorn the banks of the River Loire.
The cruise is on board a new paddlewheel ship, the 4* MS Loire Princesse, which launches in April 2015, and begins and finishes in Nantes. Nantes was originally France’s largest port, trading in sugar, rum and slaves in the 1700s; today, however, Nantes is the place to be and to be seen. The historic centre of this cosmopolitan city boasts a cathedral and the Château of the Dukes of Brittany, as well as other fine historical sights. Shopping opportunities beckon the discerning to trendy boutiques, with cafes enticing all to sit, rest, indulge and watch life go by in this quintessential French city.
There is a full programme of optional excursions whilst on the cruise to visit charming towns and cities along the great river’s banks including Saint-Nazaire which has a magnificent harbour with a long tradition of fishing and shipbuilding, picturesque Ancenis, Angers, a bustling old town, famous for its tapestries and the Chateau d’Angers, Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau and other magnificent chateaux.